Health Trends

Pokémon GO Forth and Die by DethBrock: Is Pokémon GO a Good Exercise App?

Does this app really encourage people to exercise?

Unless you have no internet access (and if you do, how are you able to read this?), you will know that Pokémon GO has become an internet sensation.  People post pictures of their new catch or what they hatched from eggs online, make jokes from the gameplay, or basically making fun of or bullying people over which color they chose.

For those who don’t care to play, or are too old to know what Pokémon is, or any other reason to not give a shit about this app, essentially it’s a game played using GPS.  You walk around and find Pokémon to catch in the real world.  Sometimes you get eggs to hatch, but you need to put them into incubators and walk for a certain distance before you can get whatever’s inside.

Now that the basic gameplay is discussed comes the question; is this a good exercise app?

Well, for starters, I am at that age where I grew up with Pokémon, so of-fucking-course I play Pokémon GO.  Secondly, it only works with biking, or walking, or any slower forms of transportation.  Meaning that the game does not give a fuck how many pounds you lifted or how far you can stretch or how far you biked on a stationary bike or ran on a treadmill, since those do not change your GPS location enough.  If at all.

My experience with it has been that when I do go out walking with friends, or to class, or to get dinner or something, I typically get rewarded for it.  Usually with Pidgeys and Ratatas.  However, if I have more free time, I’ve gone on longer paths to get to wherever I am going.  I’ve even joined in on more activities my friends do, such as going to a park I had no idea existed or whatever.  All of this has allowed me to hatch eggs.

The problems with the app have been frequent closures, or disconnects from the server, or internet problems.  Typically, in a normal walk, I have to reset the app several times.  And when the servers do not work, I am more inclined to do something else, like video games, rather than go on another walk.  It’s also very distracting, so pedestrians are more likely to be staring at their phones or whatever rather than looking at the path, especially if they are capturing something.  However, I live in a college environment, so people are already glued to their phones anyway.  There are also a lot of haters out there.  One walk I went on with friends, we got yelled at by several people passing by in cars.  Instead of feeling discouraged, we laughed it off.  Obviously if they feel the need to harass people exercising and having fun, then what does that say about their life?

Overall, despite the problems with the app, I think it is a good way to encourage people to go out and walk.  It’s not perfect, and does cause some problems along the way.  Ultimately, even if there are haters out there, don’t let them bother you.  If this stupid app gets you up and moving, then it’s not a stupid app.

By The Nutrition Punk

I am a dietitian living in Portland, Oregon. I write about a variety of nutrition and heath topics, with the goal of improving people's understanding of food and nutrition so they may be empowered against all the misinformation that is out there.

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